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Church and H.O.W. Forums for HOW Sound and AV - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Church and HOW Forums => Church Sound => Topic started by: John Fiorello on May 31, 2011, 12:22:38 pm

Title: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: John Fiorello on May 31, 2011, 12:22:38 pm
Hi Everyone!

I need some input on selecting a snake!  Long story short, the awesome audio upgrades that were a part of our churches building program got cut when bids came back too high.

Just for clarification, the audio plans didn't get cut back, they just got taken out.  The entire shabang (except for the FOH area that was designed for the new soundboard and the conduit that runs between speakers, amp room, control room and FOH).

So, here's my dilemma.  All our conduit was spec'd out for the digital system we were going to use.  Now that we're staying analog (with our current analog board) I need to give the building committee a firm price on what it will cost to hook up what we have.

I'd like to run a new snake from the stage to the Amp room.  Right now we have 36 mics to the stage, but the new design called for 56.  Would it make more sense to run a 150' analog 56ch snake or try for one of the bargain digital snakes (like the roland) if the cost is close?

I've never used the roland unit before, so I don't know if we're gonna suffer with the ad/da conversion versus a better digital snake that we can't afford.  I'm ok with a difference in price of a few thousand, cause soldering those 300+ joints doesn't sound very appealing :) Also, there will be a bit of a price difference to go analog because conduit sizes will need to change, and there are some funky paths that the architects took to fit our building setup.

Does anyone that has any experience using digital snakes for an analog board that would't recommend it unless you got specific units?  Would it be better for us to stick with copper?

Thanks for your time!


JF




Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Mac Kerr on May 31, 2011, 12:40:50 pm
Does anyone that has any experience using digital snakes for an analog board that would't recommend it unless you got specific units?  Would it be better for us to stick with copper?

Just remember that with a digital snake, your mic pres are at the stage end, and you need a way to control them. I am a fan of digital snake with digital console, but it is a trickier question with an analog console. Having a separate controller for you mic pres may or may not be a problem.

If there is serious thought about going fully digital in the future you may want to think about a digital snake that can interface with a variety of digital consoles down the line. Optocore (http://www.optocore.com/products/lx4ap.html) and Rocknet (http://www.riedel.net/AudioSolutions/RockNet300Modules/AudioInterfaces/tabid/509/language/en-US/Default.aspx) are a couple of examples of systems that work with Yamaha, Soundcraft, Digico, and Allen&Heath. They will be significantly more money than the Roland.

Mac
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on May 31, 2011, 12:58:47 pm
Hi Everyone!

I need some input on selecting a snake!  Long story short, the awesome audio upgrades that were a part of our churches building program got cut when bids came back too high.

Just for clarification, the audio plans didn't get cut back, they just got taken out.  The entire shabang (except for the FOH area that was designed for the new soundboard and the conduit that runs between speakers, amp room, control room and FOH).

So, here's my dilemma.  All our conduit was spec'd out for the digital system we were going to use.  Now that we're staying analog (with our current analog board) I need to give the building committee a firm price on what it will cost to hook up what we have.

I'd like to run a new snake from the stage to the Amp room.  Right now we have 36 mics to the stage, but the new design called for 56.  Would it make more sense to run a 150' analog 56ch snake or try for one of the bargain digital snakes (like the roland) if the cost is close?

If you already have connections in place for 36 mics, why are you throwing it all away to go to 56?

1 very fine off-the shelf 16 channel 150 foot snakes will cost you less  than $700  and get you to 52 channels. I serioiusly doubt that digital can come close. If money is an object, even lower cost snakes are easy to find and will probably get you through several years until you can fund your final solution.
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: John Fiorello on May 31, 2011, 02:34:33 pm
Does anyone that has any experience using digital snakes for an analog board that would't recommend it unless you got specific units?  Would it be better for us to stick with copper?

Just remember that with a digital snake, your mic pres are at the stage end, and you need a way to control them.


Thanks Mac, I hadn't thought about that, and that's a reason by it self that makes me think I'll stick with analog.  With multiple patch changes each week, remote pre's would be pretty annoying.
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: John Fiorello on May 31, 2011, 02:39:24 pm
If you already have connections in place for 36 mics, why are you throwing it all away to go to 56?


Hi Arnold!

The snake we have now won't be long enough to make it through the conduit that is being added (our current snake is actually 3 smaller snakes that have been added to over time).  Also, our current snake isn't long enough with the new pipe runs, so we'd end up having to extend 32 channels somewhere in the ceiling which I figured would be a huge pain, especially if we ever need to pull the snake and chop off the ends of our patch job.

Extending the current 32 channel snake is on the list though, but it's option 'C' :)


JF
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Thomas Lamb on May 31, 2011, 10:29:53 pm
Cost wise I think you'll find it cheaper going with 2 snakes. Most snake companies will make you a snake labeled however you want at no additional charge. I sometimes do this for churches who can't afford pockets. 1 stage right and 1 stage left.  Whatever combination you want really. 2-32pair cables 1-28 (which is a little weird)and a-d. Along with 29-56 and e-g which will give you some returns. Just a thought. If your pulling through conduit you can order fan toblunt w a box on the side or if the conduit is big enough tails to box (with connectors on the side) and pull the tails through. I wrap them tightly with e tape since they will only be wrapped for a few minutes they don't get sticky.
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Frank DeWitt on May 31, 2011, 10:45:16 pm
I don't have a digital snake, but I do have a digital board with external mic pres that are not controlled by the board.  It is amazing to me how much this is NOT a problem.  All my pres are not set the same but there is so much head room that any setting tends to be good enough.  Example.  the piano mic and drum mic are set low, but all the vocals are set the same.  both electric guitars are set the same, and the pres are very seldom touched.  I would not let this alone kill a digital snake unless you are completely changing everything every week.

For the rest of us, this is a reminder that in new construction we always want a 4 inch PVC pipe from platform to FOH (if allowed by code)

Frank
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Jonathan Johnson on June 01, 2011, 12:56:15 am
I'm ok with a difference in price of a few thousand, cause soldering those 300+ joints doesn't sound very appealing :)

I can't blame you. Soldering a half-dozen lines (36 joints) is bad enough. 30+ would be a long, boring day's work.

Here's an idea: order a custom snake (http://whirlwindusa.com/custom-shop) that has multipin connectors (i.e., MASS) on each end. The multipin connector attaches to a stage box at the stage end, and a fanout or patch panel at the console end. If the connector body will be too large to pull through the conduit, maybe you can order it with the connector body unassembled (but the terminal pins crimped/soldered onto the wires). Then after pulling the snake through, you can insert the terminal pins and assemble the connector body.

Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on June 01, 2011, 07:44:32 am
I don't have a digital snake, but I do have a digital board with external mic pres that are not controlled by the board.  It is amazing to me how much this is NOT a problem.  All my pres are not set the same but there is so much head room that any setting tends to be good enough.  Example.  the piano mic and drum mic are set low, but all the vocals are set the same.  both electric guitars are set the same, and the pres are very seldom touched.  I would not let this alone kill a digital snake unless you are completely changing everything every week.

For the rest of us, this is a reminder that in new construction we always want a 4 inch PVC pipe from platform to FOH (if allowed by code)

All good points.

I always pull snakes tails first. I line the connectors up in a row, dress the leads, and put a plastic bag over the whole works. I then wrap it with electrical or gaffer's tape.  I've been known to lay the gaffer's tape along the length of the cable, and then mold it around the bag, using two pieces if one doesn't give a good enough overlap.  Do this right and the head of the snake is not that much larger around than the cable itself.

The bag is a big help if you need to use cable snot to get the works through tight places. I've never hurt a cable following these practices, and I've had some really tough pulls. The worst pulls for me have been through a floor where there were built-up trusses made up out of heavy wire, and other cables still in place
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Frank DeWitt on June 01, 2011, 05:21:40 pm

I always pull snakes tails first. I line the connectors up in a row, dress the leads, and put a plastic bag over the whole works. I then wrap it with electrical or gaffer's tape.  I've been known to lay the gaffer's tape along the length of the cable, and then mold it around the bag, using two pieces if one doesn't give a good enough overlap.  Do this right and the head of the snake is not that much larger around than the cable itself.

The bag is a big help if you need to use cable snot to get the works through tight places. I've never hurt a cable following these practices, and I've had some really tough pulls. The worst pulls for me have been through a floor where there were built-up trusses made up out of heavy wire, and other cables still in place

Wow,  I am saving this.  Very cool

Frank
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: John Fiorello on June 02, 2011, 09:18:20 pm

I always pull snakes tails first. I line the connectors up in a row, dress the leads, and put a plastic bag over the whole works. I then wrap it with electrical or gaffer's tape.  I've been known to lay the gaffer's tape along the length of the cable, and then mold it around the bag, using two pieces if one doesn't give a good enough overlap. 

Yeah, we were able to do that with a smaller snake we had, I'm wondering if we'll be able to do that with the larger snake.

We did look at a stage box with a multipin out, but the price of the box (whirlwind, I think) and the multipin cable was more than double the cost of a patch panel with a cut end.


I'll know more tomorrow when we price out the extra pipes and find exact locations of the conduit.

Thanks for all your feedback!


JF
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: EmilBarnabas on June 05, 2011, 03:21:05 pm
All good points.

I always pull snakes tails first. I line the connectors up in a row, dress the leads, and put a plastic bag over the whole works. I then wrap it with electrical or gaffer's tape.  I've been known to lay the gaffer's tape along the length of the cable, and then mold it around the bag, using two pieces if one doesn't give a good enough overlap.  Do this right and the head of the snake is not that much larger around than the cable itself.

The bag is a big help if you need to use cable snot to get the works through tight places. I've never hurt a cable following these practices, and I've had some really tough pulls. The worst pulls for me have been through a floor where there were built-up trusses made up out of heavy wire, and other cables still in place

This is how I do it.
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Tim Padrick on July 08, 2011, 10:48:56 pm
Here's an idea:order a custom snake that has multipin connectors (i.e., MASS) on each end.

That's an extra $2000 minimum.  In an install, that's not a wise expenditure.
Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Jonathan Johnson on July 09, 2011, 04:12:44 pm
Here's an idea:order a custom snake that has multipin connectors (i.e., MASS) on each end.

That's an extra $2000 minimum.  In an install, that's not a wise expenditure.

But Mr. Fiorello, in his first post, indicated that the difference of a few thousand wasn't a big deal:

I'm ok with a difference in price of a few thousand, cause soldering those 300+ joints doesn't sound very appealing :) Also, there will be a bit of a price difference to go analog because conduit sizes will need to change, and there are some funky paths that the architects took to fit our building setup.

You say it's not a wise expenditure on an install... is that because it's likely to be connected exactly once in the next 20 years?

Maybe. But if five years down the road they decide to add a stage box with splitters to support a separate stage mixer, or they want to split it at the FOH end to support a separate recording console, having multipin connectors may save a bit of time and money at that point. Also, when the fan end of the snake gets abused and begins to fail, you'll be able to quickly replace it. Or maybe you want to switch from a fanout to a patch panel. Consider it an investment in flexibility, if not an investment in convenience.

Title: Re: Need help choosing a snake
Post by: Arnold B. Krueger on July 11, 2011, 09:08:47 am
That's an extra $2000 minimum.  In an install, that's not a wise expenditure.


You say it's not a wise expenditure on an install... is that because it's likely to be connected exactly once in the next 20 years?


That is one reason.

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Maybe. But if five years down the road they decide to add a stage box with splitters to support a separate stage mixer,
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No change would seem to be indicated since the snake is from stage to mixing location and the splitters come before the snake.


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or they want to split it at the FOH end to support a separate recording console,

Depending where the console is placed, that would mean a lot more wiring anyhow.


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having multipin connectors may save a bit of time and money at that point.

So far I haven't seen any such scenario.


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Also, when the fan end of the snake gets abused and begins to fail, you'll be able to quickly replace it.

The connector is usually at the box end, no?

Repairing the fan end of a snake is painfully easy. Its like a mic cable. Repairing the box end isn't much harder. I've done both kinds of repairs to a snake that was abused by a touring youth band.

None of the 3 snakes we use for FOH at church have ever required any repairs at all after 5-10 year's use.  I've seen many people who say that a snake installed in a non-portable church like the OP has typically sees very easy service.


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Or maybe you want to switch from a fanout to a patch panel.

Umm patch panel with the same connector as the snake?  Sounds like a very expensive custom or semi-custom item. IME most patch panels are hard wired. If you already have a snake in place, it would appear that the first move in a patch panel install would be a giant snip.

Yes there are such things, but buying one based purely on speculation seems questionable.

http://www.radialeng.com/rcs/snakes_50-10.htm (http://www.radialeng.com/rcs/snakes_50-10.htm)

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Consider it an investment in flexibility, if not an investment in convenience.

Just on random speculation?